Trailblazing in Olyphant

OLYPHANT, Pa. -- Volunteers gathered at a popular illegal dumping site in Olyphant to clear it. They hope their efforts will lead to benefits in the community.

Old tires, broken furniture, and other trash are being cleared from a path in the borough behind South Valley Avenue.

Volunteers from the Lackawanna River Conservation Association are cleaning this area up as it will soon become part of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail.

"It's an old abandoned coal mine property," explained the LRAC's Bernie McGurl. "It's been a dump ground for a couple generations since the coal mines left."

The LRCA is working with the Lackawanna Heritage Valley Association and the Borough of Olyphant to bring the nature trail to the area.

"We're blazing the trail and picking up the trash and making the environment look a lot cleaner than it has been," added McGurl.

Volunteers tell Newswatch 16 setting up this area to become part of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail does have some challenges.

"How to get in here and how to get down steep banks in between brush and trees and shrubs and pickers to get a hold of that stuff and get it up to where it can be put into a dumpster," said volunteer Joseph Holland. "Today probably would have been easier if we hadn't had such a wet summer 'cause obviously it makes it muddy and slippery."

Folks who spend time on trails, like Christopher Sefchik of Olyphant, appreciate the effort.

"I remember when the river itself was really dirty, and they did a tremendous effort cleaning it up, and now we can fish there and do the trails," said Sefchik. "It's just great. It's great to see nature come back."

Holland hopes expanding the trail in urban areas will draw more people to live nearby and boost the local economy.

"You can't underestimate the value of recreational areas that are right in the hearts of towns and cities, which of course the Lackawanna flows directly through. You really can't underestimate that enough," adds Holland.

There is no date set for when that will officially become part of the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail. Once all of the trash and debris is clear, the LRCA will work with landscape architects and other officials to complete it.